Friday, December 26, 2014

seq02 comp without animated environment.

this may work after all...

sitting here for over a week trying to figure out how to keep the linear burn blending mode in the lineart layer so that the character could be composited, in all their dirty glory (no clean lines and cartoon paintbucket fills, so help me Martha) against an animated, water/sky background without taking weeks of importing minutiae to do it.

here's the magic formula, so as not to forget:

PSD characters against animated wave bg in After Effects:
• reduce PSD's to lineart layer (screen mode: linear burn) + merged color layers (color, deep color, under)
• select all PSD's for shot and import into After Effects: check "Photoshop Sequence," "Composition," "Editable Layer Styles"
• drag PSD sequences (lineart + merged color layers) into timeline, above animated waves
• edit character layers for moving holds, etc., using time remapping

• will use the existing PSD's, with all their layers and imported as Photoshop Sequences, and apply a linear burn to the line layer (top), which achieves the same effect. will modify if this proves to much for the computer to process.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

reflections post music session

impressed with what the student composers came up with - feels like they really put some effort into this and took the assignment seriously.

very interesting to see how the visuals were interpreted - this was only about one minute out of an 11-minute piece, so, unless they had a look at the animatic, it was not possible to know the full story, and to thus determine the mood within a larger context.

judging from the comments I received from music professors Evan Solot and Rick Hall, the comp students, my object animation class sophomores, and others present, it quickly became obvious that the colors (bright pastels/watercolor) and characterizations (of the ogre in particular) tend to give off a fairy tale sort of feeling. the music ranged from playful, for children, to more feature-film-ish heartstring tugging.

all of the compositions seemed to fall within a certain range of each other, as described above, with no interpretation radically different from the others. jun hee's interpretation was playful, with some asian undertones in the intervals (I think there were some parallel 4ths or 5ths in there), and appropriate for a children's tale. Kyle's piece evoked a video game, with its often continuous eight notes reminiscent of a sidescroller character's march through an environment. Justin's and Reed's pieces both had moments where they seemed to gel nicely with the action, as did Jun Hee's again, with a particularly nice use of silence.

for me, the sections that seemed generally to work less well with the visuals occurred when long notes were held over moments that either seemed to require a pause or something less broadly emotive.

my goal for the piece calls for mournful, melancholic, dissonant, and austere music, to suit a lonely, alienated mood. The hope is to create a feeling of loneliness, and one that veers more towards independent film rather than mainstream film, ultimately. the fact that the composers came up with a much different interpretation tells me much about adjustments that need to be made if I hope to evoke this kind of response: saturating the daylight colors much more, adding dirt and vignetting to the image, etc. I also suspect, however, that had they known this, the music have been come out quite differently - they were given no clues as to my intentions, as the point was to see what the visuals evoked.

bravo to the composers and their instructors - many appreciations for their efforts!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

the mermaid's stare.

cracking down on sequence XII - mermaid and ogre staring contest. this is the last, full sequence to character color (outside of sequence 17, which is another matter, with a long, final shot).

just like students, I'm hoping to get a bunch of work done over Thanksgiving break. the goal is to finish off sequence 12, which seems reasonable, given uninterrupted days of screen staring and stylus pushing.

after that, it's on to fixing up bits and leftover pieces, and then learning TV Paint to animate waves and clouds over winter vacation.

looking forward to hearing what the composition students have come up with as soundtrack tries for sequence IV this wednesday. post to follow...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

more water-based shenanigans

sequence 10 now colored; sequence 11 nearly done. upward and onward to sequence 12, which Tahirah and I will share in order to finish it off more quickly.

sequence 17 still needs the piece's longest (though not most difficult) shot to fully animated. the coloring will hopefully be a matter of erasing, bit by bit.

one more shot from sequence 4 to animate: stomach growling, the original pencil drawings were lost to the ether somewhere along the way, and need to be redrawn.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

seq10_sh08_ogre hit by waves

halfway through this, the last of the big shots - about a hundred drawings.

picking away, coloring a few frames here, a few frames there, animation can seem like chiseling a block of marble with a toothpick. probably people who restore paintings may have a similarly ridiculously meticulous mentality.

love those nighttime backgrounds colors by ellen. going to make the daytime shots more saturated, to keep this rich color. going to take the background linework out as well, pretty sure that will look better.

Friday, October 10, 2014

mermaid still

mermaid leaping in ellen's beautiful night sky (ogre missing - in fact she's sort of attacking him in this shot). may be wise to composite both characters into this one...or try setting the timeline up in photoshop here). the background colors remind me of marbles I had when I was little (I've lost them since, as it were). or vincent.

just finished coloring sequence 16, shot 04 (below) - over a hundred drawings, with james doing the first 20 or so.

tomorrow is saturday - time to start in on the last big shot, sequence 10, shot 08, where the ogre gets pounded by waves in nearly a hundred drawings...

after that, with tahirah whittling away at sequence 11, where the mermaid teases the ogre, sequence 12 remains as next in line and then sequence 17, with its grains of sand. after that, with one or two more odds and ends to do, it will be on to animating waves in tvpaint.

this project has gone on so long it feels like part of everyday life.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

slogging away

seq16_sh04: 81 of 104 images colored. finish this shot tomorrow. the pace has slowed down considerably since august, but this week, we'll pick it up with zest in order to get through the remaining shots and start in on animating waves and clouds.

Monday, September 22, 2014

sequence 04 again

seq04_09_21_14 from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

roughly-timed, rough sound effects, but this is what I cobbled together while attending the Ottawa Animation festival of Sequence IV for UArts music composition prof Evan Solot to hand over to his students to try their hands at soundtrack writing. Looking forward to hearing the results!

Sequence IV was previously put together for the Philadelphia Independents screening back in March. More colored shots were added to this version, although the TV Paint waves are yet to be tackled.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

musical interpretations

Evan Solot, music composition prof at UArts, offered, in the form of an exercise, to ask his students to score a bit of "ogre/mermaid" to see how different pieces of music affect the atmosphere and meaning of the animation. I'm updating sequence 04, in color, for this purpose.

Friday, September 19, 2014


it's already mid-september. the film has been taking a backseat to school activity and life, but being here in ottawa at the festival is nothing if not a reminder to keep at it, even though it has already taken what has become a ridiculous amount of time (next film will be much simpler, that's for sure).

Sunday, August 3, 2014


at some point, it will be necessary to stop posting all these shots, lest the entire movie end up online before we are ready for screening!

having gotten rid of most of the short, ogre-only shots (in terms of coloring), it's on to shots involving the stagehands, and shots with both the ogre and the mermaid in them.

Tahirah is working away at sequence 13, and I am attacking sequence 16. Hoping to finish all coloring by september 1st. that won't mean we're done, though...oh, noooo...there's still animating of waves and clouds to do, and finding a composer, sound effects, and editing.

seq13_sh01o: more color from Tahirah

OMseq13 sh01o from Tahirah on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

seq10_sh02_ogre runs profile

seq10_sh02_ogre runs profile from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

what coloring all day does to a person.

the black sand hourglass gets turned upside-down regularly, but at the end of each hour, you have to get up to walk around, pick something out of the refrigerator, stretch, etc., get the blood circulating again, before sitting down to work on the next bunch of drawings.

depending on the image, it takes about 15 minutes per image. tracebacks are a godsend (just copy and paste, and save), and often it is possible to cut pieces of color and repaste them into place, although I try to avoid doing that too much lest the drawings start to look...copied and pasted.

2D computer animation can't be very healthy - maybe stop-motion is better? but it is kind of meditative. the shorter shots give one a feeling of accomplishment, but at this point, most of those are done, and it's the longer shots that await!

keeping going, keeping going.

layout for seq13_sh01

here's the pencil layout for seq13_sh01, for reference.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


ogre contemplating a lonely world, or maybe just the whichness of the why. because you can always stare up at the stars when you need a reminder that your problems are miniscule in comparison to the mystery of the universe...

anyway, sequence 07 is now fully colored(!).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

nearly done coloring this shot.

about 8 more to go...gotta pick up the pace! in-between workshop-doing, festival attending, studio hunting, mountain hiking, practicing guitar, and procrastinating, it's been slow going, but this shot is nearly colored.

after this, I'll plow through several more over the next two weeks, and have some TVPaint skills to attest to as well.

it's pretty cool, animating in the alps.

Friday, May 16, 2014

here I am! commence!


welcome our summer intern Tahirah Pryor to the Motion Heads team! she's going to develop some real strong coloring muscles, that's for sure.  : D

Friday, May 9, 2014


seq04 sh07 bgexperiment3 lateral from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

water test in TVPaint from ellen today - nice work, ellen! aiming for something that looks believable, in-between stylized and realistic. the more I look at it, the more I like it.

school's almost done for the semester, so one more time it's full steam ahead, aiming squarely for a september deadline with this film.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

keeping going...

semester is almost over, but the coloring continues. lasagna party at the end of the week to celebrate 15 weeks of coloring in between homework assignments, life, and other activities. we got to screen bits and pieces of seq14 back in march at the plastic club, which was a boost. now, summer's long days mean a push to get this film to an september finish line.
this is giselle's fish, making a cameo appearance in a close-up.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

sequence iv, in various stages of completion.

seq04 29mar14 from Christopher Magee on Vimeo.

screened before a live audience at the philadelphia plastic club on saturday, march 29th, 2014.

thanks to the hard work on this sequence of janelle smith, ellen marcus, natalia caballero, marie huard, shannon connor, giselle rosser, amanda bautista, and all of motion heads' other interns, who are working or have worked on other parts of the film.

ogre at the plastic club.

I presented the work of motion heads at the plastic club's "philadelphia independents" screening of local animators on saturday, march 29th. the evening was an enthusiastic success, with the work of 12 different animators represented, old friends and colleagues reunited, and a diverse group of artists present to celebrate the work of their peers.

sequence iv, lasting only a minute or so and in various stages of shot completion, screened before a receptive audience. it has been a long, long, long...haul, but a moment like this gives one the motivation to keep on going to completion, and also a little insight into the work that is not so easy to get just looking at it on one's own.

I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of my motion heads team, sad not to continue to be working with some of them, but grateful for their time and energy. beyond just making a film for myself, on this project I feel a positive responsibility to see this through, to reward our efforts and to make sure we're all proud of the end result.

so, onward and onward...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


last shot of sequence IV, mermaid pulls ogre through the water.

Monday, March 10, 2014

spring break & it's time to dig in.

fresh off the board.
back and back and back to the drawing board...

inching towards the end of pencil drawings and ditching the light table for the electronic box of light.

mermaid in phoenixville.

the view from here.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

listening to seashells

at one point in the story, the ogre picks up a seashell and listens to it. is this why he hears what he hears?:

just one more piece of detritus drifting about on the internet...but an interesting one.

Monday, February 24, 2014

more stills...

seq05_sh02: mermaid staring.
color setups - 1st frame of a sequence, to serve as a color guide for the rest.
seq05_sh04: mermaid dive.

seq05_sh05: ogre scared.
the backgrounds are not yet animated, and the clouds will be replaced with more vaporous versions, but the film is starting to look like a color film. ogre in pencil below retains gentler line quality, pre-colorization.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


first ogre drawing of the film, shot about to be colored.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

spring '14 interns

welcome to the spring 2014 motion heads interns! from left: ra'shon, natalia, james, tim, and ginelle. the first two weeks have been spent learning some ropes, including, mainly, matching the color sample file and getting the hang of using the ogre brushes and color palettes to come up with the chalky watercolor look. also learning to use the dragon capture station to digitize drawings and get them ready for photoshop.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

colored stills

more images, moving forward. we just recruited several new interns for the semester and got started in on coloring yesterday. we're aiming for 24 images colored per week, per person. it looks like a good crew - I believe we will make significant progress this semester in coloring.

the deadline is admittedly a moving target, but the latest date is june '14 - only 4 months away, if that, but it we get into a good rhythm at this early point in the semester, we may be able to squeeze this out.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


meeting on tuesday at 1pm and 4pm for the new interns, in room 1425: Natalia, James, Ra'shon, Tim, and Ginelle. thanks for joining the team, and looking forward to getting you all started on the film! bring a mac laptop and a tablet if you have them. if not, we'll set you up in the lab.